While there is certainly a recovery going on, it can be difficult to see it if you are young and still learning the ropes. It is very important for younger generations to be a lot more fiscally responsible than older generations because you have it much harder than we did. To minimize (or entirely avoid) the pitfalls that still burden older generations today, here are a few things you can do to get stable now.
- Track your finances. Yes, it can be time consuming, and, no, it isn’t fun. However, it is essential. It also helps remind you just how much money you have so that you don’t overspend if you get a windfall. Learning to live within your means is one of the hardest lessons any person learns, so learn it now and you will save yourself a life time of financial strain.
- Pay off debt. Whatever debt you have, take care of it now. If you have student loans and are still in school, start making payments if you can. Right now it is interest free, so you are helping yourself later. If you can make a little extra money at one of your hobbies, even better.
- Avoid any more debt. The easiest thing to avoid is using credit cards. You should have one to help establish your credit score, but you should only use it in an emergency. If you don’t have the money to pay for something now, don’t use your credit card to take care of it. It is a fast track to more debt than you can manage later when loans and other debts start to add up.
- Save what you can. If it comes down to paying off debt or saving, make it an alternating thing. Save one paycheck. Pay extra with the next. Having money saved up will give you footing that many people from older generations didn’t have because money was more readily available.
- Research your options. This includes anything from bills to investments. Investing can be a great way to ensure you have the money you need for your retirement, but you want something that will guarantee you the money (especially if you don’t have much right now and are simply trying to do the right thing for your future). Bills are also not set in stone. See if you can negotiate lower rates, get rid of services you don’t need, and look for ways to reduce bills you must have (like power and water).
Right now is the time to establish the way you will handle your finances going forward. The habits you develop now will be the ones you have in 25 and 50 years. If you start out right, you can avoid a lot of trouble in the future.